MATCH REPORT: Lions nick it with a fabulous late show

Nico Defeo slots the match-winning conversion for the Lions at Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby
Nico Defeo slots the match-winning conversion for the Lions at Nuneaton. Picture: Mick Sutterby
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Peterborough Lions performed a smash and grab raid at Nuneaton this afternoon (February 17) to keep their English Clubs Championship promotion hopes alive and kicking.

They scored three tries in the last eight minutes to win 21-20 and maintain second place in the Midlands Premiership table - 10 points ahead of nearest rivals Newport with six games to go.

Vaha Halaifanua scores the Lions first try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Vaha Halaifanua scores the Lions first try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“I can’t believe what I’ve just witnessed,” said Lions chairman Andy Moore. “For 72 minutes we were absolute rubbish and I was ready to hang myself.

“But then, out of the blue, we’ve scored three tries and snatched a win with the very last kick of the game.

“Nuneaton is our bogey side, we’ve never won here before, so I reckon we’re on to something good this season. It could be our year.

“It was a humdinger of a game and I’m euphoric.”

Tom Dougherty nips in for the second Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Tom Dougherty nips in for the second Lions try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

The Lions struggled to string two passes together in the first half and were distinctly second best.

They conceded penalties galore, dropped passes aplenty and generally lacked urgency.

Luckily for the visitors though, Nuneaton were only able to score two first-half tries and a penalty and turned round 15-0 to the good.

“They thoroughly deserved that lead because we were, in all honesty, terrible. There was no cohesion there at all,” added Moore.

Dan Malem runs in for the Lions third try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

Dan Malem runs in for the Lions third try. Picture: Mick Sutterby

“And when they added another try just after the restart I thought we were in for a right good hiding.

“With 10 minutes to go a few of our supporters had seen enough and went back into the bar uttering ‘what a load of rubbish’ to themselves. And of course they missed all the excitement.”

First number eight Vaha Halaifanua went over after beating a couple of players on a run for the line and Nico Defo converted to reduce the leeway to 20-7.

With two minutes to go that deficit became 21-14 as scrum-half Tom Dougherty went on one of his sniping runs to score under the posts for Defeo to convert.

Then the tale of the unexpected was completed deep into injury time as Dan Malem coasted in to make it 20-19.

Defeo needed to convert for victory and, cool as you like, he obliged before the final whistle went.

“Nuneaton are a very good side and just couldn’t believe they had lost,” said Moore. “And I just couldn’t believe we’d won.”